Selasa, 05 Juni 2012

Knowledge Management Process

Knowledge management is the concept of taking data and turning it into useful and applicable knowledge in a business environment. There is no one specific way that this done, and there's really no one specific definition of the process or the concept. The ideas are more general, though there are many specific benefits of knowledge management that can be named as well as some specific steps that must be included, no matter how simple or complex an organization's concept of knowledge management is. The knowledge management process can have a few steps or dozens, but those steps fall into the falling basic categories:
  • Data Capture: Raw data must be collected somehow before it can be turned into knowledge, or wisdom as the last step in the process is often called.
  • Data Storage: There has to be a place to keep the collected information. Data storage for most businesses and even individuals today is digital, but even a filing cabinet is a data storage solution.
  • Data Organization: Once the data is collected it has to be organized into some kind of a useful structure.  For instance, a piece of paper that contains raw data like sales figures numbers, number of employees, prices of products, employee attendance numbers and last quarter's profits is full of raw data, but it's a collection that's not organized and can't be easily used in this format.
  • Data Analysis: This often melds in with the organization step, as the act of organizing data often requires analysis. Once the data is analyzed, then it's more likely to be knowledge than just raw information because the way the information works together and things like cause and effect become more obvious. Patterns become obvious, and those can be used to illustrate general concepts. This turns the information into useful knowledge.
  • Knowledge Sharing. At this point, the raw data has become useful knowledge or wisdom. While this is an improvement over raw, unorganized data, it's necessary to determine the best way to share this wisdom with employees to make it truly useful on a daily basis, and to use it to reach organizational goals.

The Purpose of the Knowledge Management Process

The entire point of gathering data, storing it, organizing, analyzing it and sharing it is so that the company can use vital business information to see what needs to be done, what needs to be improved, what can be eliminated, what needs to be maximized and what's possible in the future. The knowledge from this information processing cycle can be used to reach goals, whether those goals are more sales, more clients, less waste, more employee productivity, a better public image or almost any type of goal a company could have. Knowledge can be used to further those goals if it's gathered and processed correctly.
The knowledge management process has not always been something that companies have focused on, at least not in a formal way. Few people in a company several years ago would have used the term "knowledge management." But companies that were successful have always practiced knowledge management whether they called it that or not. Gathering data and turning it into useful information and shared knowledge has always been crucial.
An Example of the Knowledge Management Process
To illustrate the process, consider that you and another person want to pool your money to purchase something at a store. You'll need to know how much money you have and how much the item costs. You write down $20, $10 and $5. That is data that you've stored by writing it down. Those numbers mean nothing, because they're raw data with no context. Once you have these numbers, you have gathered data but it's essentially useless.
Now the data must be organized. You make it clear that the $20 is what the item costs, and that you have $10 to contribute and your friend has $5. Now you must analyze the data. This leads you to see that you don't have enough money to purchase the item, and that your friend needs to contribute another $5 in order to make it possible. You pass that information to share the knowledge. Now your friend also knows that it's necessary to add $5. What started at as 3 raw numbers has now become useful knowledge that helps in setting a goal.
While that's a very simplistic example, the basic steps are followed in every knowledge management process.
An Organization's Knowledge Management Process
A company can't set sales goals (resulting from wisdom rather than just guesses) without proper knowledge about past sales, trends, potential obstacles and which items sell best and why (data that's organized to have relevant meaning). Likewise, a company that wants to improve employee productivity can't do so without understanding that productivity in the past and looking at knowledge that would suggest what has worked and what hasn't.
While the idea of a knowledge management process might sound complicated in general terms, when you look at the specific steps it becomes something that people and companies do every day without even realizing it. By nailing the process down and following the steps deliberately, more associations between data are readily made and goal-setting and results can be improved even more.


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